Mother Language Day was born out of the experience of the Bangladeshi’s who took back their language and culture when it was under threat from another country – Pakistan as it happened. Bangla was given second place to Urdu.

In 1999 the Bangladesh government proposed to UNESCO that a day each year, 21st February, be set aside for all peoples who’s mother tongue was not the prevailing way of speaking in the place where they lived. Though in their case it was the imposition of Urdu that was fought against as Bangla was the prevailing language. The battle for Bangla laid the patriotic foundation for the country’s nine-month long war of independence in 1971. Thus Bangladesh was born.

Besides commemorating their own struggle to redeem Bangla – people were killed in the protesting melee – the proposal was expanded to make sure that minority languages and cultures were not overlooked anywhere. The special day would allow ethnic groups to gather and share their common heritage and where that was not taking place, use their own family language among themselves.

This opportunity and possibility has considerable importance in this era of the globalization of just about everything. It highlights the problems that globalization brings, in particular in regard to entire cultures getting swallowed up by the dominant cultures.

Speaking of ascendant cultures leads the thoughts directly to the USA. The fault of the USA is their success. It’s the hugeness of that economy that is affecting all other nations and regions. It is Hollywood and that certain image which confuses the real. The underbelly of America is hidden – for in the movies even that dark side is presented in a way that diminishes the serious social schisms so revealed and that threaten even Uncle Sam’s green dollar paradise.

The values of the West are placed in opposition to those of the East, but even West and East are difficult demarcations today such is the admixture of influences. But only at a particular strata of society because it still holds that there are great differences and the gaps between the haves and not-haves are widening.

One way to counteract that ever expanding division is to engage in activities that bring solidarity to the locality because the problems brought about by globalization are problems of isolation and fragmentation. The new divides the old into sympathetic and defensive sectors. Usually the young go one way and the older the other – because they are stuck and do not have the flexibility of the young. It is not a fault, it is just a fact.

To speak one’s own mother language, of course with neighbours and friends and family, consolidates those deep blood relations. To sing the songs of one’s one locality brings up the more profound feelings, as does the special aroma of the family’s way of cooking. It goes beyond “mother’s cooking” – that aroma brings into play an intricacy of deep emotions connected with the sense of place, of belonging, of origination.

To understand one’s place is to stand firm in life and have the conditions to grasp its meaning which has all to do with how I am and what I am. The disabling effect of globalization is to remove those auspicious conditions and give in their place a blandness without a handgrip. Not having any practical references how to ascend! If you are not going up, you are going down as it is impossible, without excessive effort, to maintain a static position. Life is a dynamic process.

On this day, International Mother Language Day, it behoves us all to give thought to our particularised social-cultural niche and to make that niche comfortable by using the most appropriate way of communicating, through the manner of speaking and the cultural forms in singing and dancing. These can transmit important cultural themes and have a moral-educational value. Very often they speak to us of love, that supreme human feeling.

Habitual users of the dominant language and culture of any place can play their part in this collective effort by showing support for minorities, by doing what they can to make this a day of special mark, simply by allowing their own strong culture to step niftily aside for the period.

The positive aspects of what takes place in globalization – the more efficient trading mechanisms that can be put in place – can be accepted if the diversity of human activities are respected and left intact.

For example, the Euro is really useful when moving between European countries but the British can’t get a laugh anymore from Americans trying to fathom pounds shillings and pence. It is an extension of the introduction of the modern but faceless metric system.

Carpenters, farmers, all kinds of artisans were implicated in the development of the previous systems of measurement but with one sweeping change all that went overboard. Much greater care has to be exercised with globalization. It must not be an automatic event with everything out of control. People have to play their part. This ‘speaking in tongues’ is one way of bringing beneficial influences into play.

It may also be rewarding for the dominant language speakers to recall their dialects and customs in that locality and to partake of regional dishes and delights. To make it a family occasion not quite like other family gatherings but where the essential roots are delved. This happens when families get together anyway with stories of wayward ‘uncle John’ and the like. The children love those stories and they provoke a sense of history, of where I came from.

That is what is missing today. The community spirit. The solidarity. Worker’s unions don’t function properly any longer. Not like they used to. Street parades are put on by municipal bodies and not the street ‘busybodies’. That’s why they are so boring. People just drink now, but they can drink every night these days. Once they could not afford that so special occasions were just that. Special.

In the USA English allows all the people to communicate in daily life so they can manage all kinds of activities together but there are a thousand and one languages in that diverse and strong modern culture.

So, a small territory that is part of the greater Indian sub-continent played a role in bringing cultural values back into the wider life of everyman. The small influences the large. The tiny yeast grains leaven the bread. The whole evolves bringing with it the lesser particles from which it builds itself. And that’s the way it should be.